AN EXAMINATION OF COMPETENCIES, ROLES, AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT NEEDS OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTANCE EDUCATORS WHO TEACH MATHEMATICS

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1 AN EXAMINATION OF COMPETENCIES, ROLES, AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT NEEDS OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTANCE EDUCATORS WHO TEACH MATHEMATICS by FALECIA D. WILLIAMS B.A., Rollins College, 1991 M.A., Stetson University, 1996 A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education in the Department of Educational Studies in the College of Education at the University of Central Florida Orlando, Florida Spring Term 2006 Major Professor: Jeffrey S. Kaplan

2 ABSTRACT This study describes the perceptions of both distance education administrators and faculty who teach mathematics online in a Florida community college setting with regard to the relative importance of core competencies and roles in teaching online courses and the need for professional development that is supportive of these competencies and roles. The perceptions of administrators and online faculty for level of importance indicated for core competencies and skill area needs for faculty development when teaching an online course were examined. Results of these perceptions by group were re-examined in relation to gender, age, ethnicity, years of community college teaching experience, and years of online community college teaching experience. The Survey of Competencies for Teaching an Online Course, a 23-item instrument designed by the researcher, was mailed to 28 distance education administrators with membership to the Florida Distance Learning Consortium (FDLC) and 100 faculty teaching mathematics or statistics online during spring term Twenty administrators and fifty-two online faculty returned surveys, for a usable response rate of 71% and 52%, respectively. Results from the study suggested: (a) distance education administrators and online faculty ascribed a similar level of importance to core competencies and roles for teaching an online course; (b) providing grades and feedback, facilitating online activities to support learning, and creation of online assignments and tasks were perceived to be the ii

3 most important competencies and roles for online instruction; (c) distance education administrators and online faculty ascribe varying levels of importance to skill areas needed for faculty development to support a fully Web-based course; (d) knowledge of distance education instructional techniques and planning and instructional design skills were perceived to be the most important skill area need to target for faculty development; and (e) neither gender nor age had any bearing on distance education administrator and online faculty perceptions of the need for faculty development to support online instruction. The results further indicate that although the perceived importance of core competencies and roles for teaching online were similar for distance education administrators and online faculty, the levels of importance for each competency and role varied within each group based upon gender, age, ethnicity, years of community college teaching experience, and years of online community college teaching experience. For example, male faculty, more so than female faculty, viewed greater relevance for production of new and relevant knowledge as competency. Distance education administrators between the ages of 30 and 40, more so than administrators between 49 and 55 years old, consider facilitating to understand course content a high priority competency. Recommendations for further study included conducting a parallel study by varying the faculty subject area, the institution type, geographic location, or level of accreditation. Further research is also suggested to examine ethnic minority representation within distance learning. For this study, the distance education administrator sample was just above 5%, and it was only 10% among the online faculty iii

4 as it relates to ethnic minorities. Further research is needed to analyze the factors contributing to overall under-representation of ethnic minorities, particularly African- Americans. iv

5 This dissertation is dedicated to my mother, Eula B. Douglas, whose strength, wisdom, and faith continue to enrich my life. I love you. v

6 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The accomplishment of this goal is the result of collaboration, teamwork, and dedication. I am grateful to my dissertation committee for their expertise and insight throughout the completion of my degree program: Dr. Tace Crouse for her consistent words of reflection and encouragement; Dr. Charles Dziuban for his guidance, knowledge, and time; Dr. Jeffrey Kaplan for his confidence in me and courage in assuming the role chair; Dr. Edmund Short for enlightening assignments and effectively engaging me in the process of curriculum review and inquiry; Dr. Steven Sorg for his documented contributions to the field of distributed learning. I would also like to thank my colleagues and friends at Valencia Community College who have supported my graduate studies. I am especially grateful to the staff in the College Transition Programs department whose passion and commitment to providing access and excellence in postsecondary education have inspired me daily. The most heartfelt appreciation is extended to my husband, Alfred E. Williams, and my son, Cameron A. Williams whose love and understanding have allowed me to accomplish this dream. To the memory of my grandmother Mary E. White, my mother Eula B. Douglas, brothers William L. Douglas, Antwann L. Douglas, and Nicholas C. Pride, I extend loving thanks for continual reassurance and unwavering faith in my ability. Thanks to my friends and ministry colleagues for your kindness and prayers. To God be the glory for the all that He has done! vi

7 TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES...x CHAPTER CLARIFYING THE PROBLEM...1 Introduction...1 Statement of the Problem...6 Purposes of the Study...6 Conceptual Framework...7 Research Questions...8 Methodology...10 Research Paradigm...10 Population...10 Instrumentation...11 Permission and Data Collection...11 Data Analysis...12 Significance of the Study...14 Assumptions...15 Limitations...16 Definition of Terms...17 Organization of Dissertation...19 CHAPTER REVIEW OF LITERATURE AND RELATED RESEARCH...20 Introduction...20 Distance Education...21 Historical Perspective...23 Online Instruction...25 Faculty Resistance to Online Learning...27 Innate Barriers...29 Minimizing Distance and Maximizing Education...31 Core Competencies and Roles for Distance Educators...33 Interpersonal Communication and Feedback...36 Promoting Interaction...36 Management and Administration...37 Teamwork and Collaboration...38 Assessment and Evaluation...38 Technologist...39 Systemic Thinking Perspective...40 Research Specialization...40 Graphic Design...41 vii

8 The Florida Community College System...41 The Community College Baccalaureate...42 The Mathematics Link...43 Faculty Development...44 Summary...46 CHAPTER METHODOLOGY...48 Introduction...48 Statement of the Problem...49 Population and Study Setting...50 Instrumentation...52 Permission...57 Sample...58 Data Collection...61 Variables...63 Data Analysis...64 Data Analysis for Research Question Data Analysis for Research Question Data Analysis for Research Question Data Analysis for Research Question Data Analysis for Research Question Data Analysis for Research Question Data Analysis for Research Question Data Analysis for Research Question CHAPTER ANALYSIS OF THE DATA...69 Introduction...69 Description of the Population...69 Institutional Organization of Online Course Support...73 Findings of Research Question Findings of Research Question Findings of Research Question Gender...83 Age...87 Ethnic Background...92 Community College Teaching Experience...97 Community College Online Teaching Experience Findings of Research Question Findings of Research Question Findings of Research Question viii

9 Findings of Research Question Gender Age Ethnic Background Community College Teaching Experience Community College Online Teaching Experience Findings of Research Question CHAPTER SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS Summary of the Study Research Question Research Question Research Question Gender Age Ethnic Background Community College Teaching Experience Community College Online Teaching Experience Research Question Research Question Research Question Research Question Gender Age Ethnic Background Community College Teaching Experience Community College Online Teaching Experience Research Question Conclusions Implications and Recommendations for Practice Recommendations for Future Research APPENDIX A - SURVEY INSTRUMENT APPENDIX B - INFORMED CONSENT - DISTANCE EDUCATION FACULTY AND ADMINISTRATORS APPENDIX C - INSTITUTION PERMISSION LETTER AND FORM APPENDIX D - INFORMED CONSENT - PILOT STUDY APPENDIX E - SURVEY FEEDBACK LETTER AND FORM APPENDIX F - FOLLOW-UP COMMUNICATIONS APPENDIX G - COVER LETTER FOR REPLACEMENT SURVEY APPENDIX H - IRB APPROVAL LIST OF REFERENCES ix

10 LIST OF TABLES 1. Demographic Characteristics of Distance Education Administrators Demographic Characteristics of Online Faculty Institutional Organization of Online Course Support - Distance Education Administrators Institutional Organization of Online Course Support - Online Faculty Rankings of Importance of Core Competencies and Roles - Distance Education Administrators Rankings of Importance of Core Competencies and Roles - Online Faculty Rankings of Importance of Core Competencies and Roles - Distance Education Administrators and Online Faculty Chi-square for Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles - Distance Education Administrators and Online Faculty One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Gender Significant Difference One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Gender One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Gender Significant Difference One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Gender One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Age Significant Difference One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Age One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Age...91 x

11 16. One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Ethnic Background One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Ethnic Background Significant Difference One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Ethnic Background One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Community College Teaching Experience Significant Difference One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Community College Teaching Experience One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Community College Teaching Experience Significant Difference One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Community College Teaching Experience One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Community College Online Teaching Experience Significant Difference One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Community College Online Teaching Experience One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Core Competencies and Roles Community College Online Teaching Experience Additional Competencies and Roles Identified by Distance Education Administrators and Online Faculty Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Distance Education Administrators Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Online Faculty Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Distance Education Administrators and Online Faculty Chi-square for Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Distance Education Administrators and Online Faculty xi

12 31. One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Gender One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Gender One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Age One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Age One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Ethnic Background Significant Difference One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Ethnic Background One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Ethnic Background Significant Difference One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Ethnic Background One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Community College Teaching Experience One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Community College Teaching Experience Significant Difference One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Community College Teaching Experience One-way ANOVA for Administrator Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Community College Online Teaching Experience One-way ANOVA for Online Faculty Rankings of Need for Faculty Development Community College Online Teaching Experience Additional Faculty Development Areas Identified by Distance Education Administrators and Online Faculty xii

13 CHAPTER 1 CLARIFYING THE PROBLEM Introduction As digital communication technologies have extended teaching and learning environments beyond face-to-face modes, the brick and mortar of the traditional college or university campus no longer fully define the postsecondary classroom (Floyd, 2003; Kozeracki, 1999). Moreover, as Howell et al. (2003, para. 6) asserted, The current higher education infrastructure cannot accommodate the growing college-aged population and enrollments, making more distance education programs necessary. Technology-rich learning environments offer the potential to prepare students who can more readily respond to the demands and advancements of a global economy (Kozma, 2003). Technology is a critical part of every industry, and students must know how to use it effectively (Harvey, 2004, p. 73). Further, the League for Innovation in the Community College found that 86 percent of surveyed community college leaders deemed technological literacy essential for students to succeed in the twenty-first century (ERIC Clearinghouse for Community Colleges, 2002). Nontraditional and adult learners, who often attend community colleges, demand equity and access to any time, any place learning-centered quality instruction (Evans, 2003; Lever-Duffy & Lemke, 1996; Thach, 1993), and these students want courses that effectively integrate with life responsibilities and busy schedules (Howell et al., 2003). 1

14 Students are choosing to attend those institutions that are most responsive to their needs. Accordingly, technology has changed the way institutions of higher education, in general, and community colleges, in particular, operate and deliver instruction (Plotnik, 1999). In many ways, technology has become the great equalizer, as the Internet helps to facilitate and increase communication between faculty, students and staff (Hancock, 2001). As Lever-Duffy and Lemke (1996) put it, distance education [is] in the right place, at the right time. Three major sources provide distance education courses in higher education: (a) traditional institutions of higher education (colleges, universities, two-year and/or community colleges) that incorporate such courses within their comprehensive curriculum; (b) independent distance education institutions that solely, or primarily, offer remote access classes; and (c) hybrid coalitions of these two. Examples of the latter include consortia that serve as clearinghouses for advertisement of distance education courses offered at higher education institutions or which offer their own degrees and certificates (Kozeracki, 1999). The changing demographics in the community college and its increasingly nontraditional student body require different approaches to teaching and learning beyond those with which most faculty are familiar (Murray, 2002; Stolzenberg, 2002). Today, distance education particularly online learning has experienced unparalleled and simultaneous growth in the community college setting (Dillon & Cintron, 1997; Hancock, 2001). Hancock (2001) reported that 62 percent of all two-year public institutions offered distance education in 1998 with an 18 percent increase expected by 2001, while findings 2

15 from the Center for Study of Community Colleges 1998 Curriculum Project concluded that 78 percent of a representative sample of these institutions offered at least one distance education course (Kozeracki, 1999). Community colleges are leaders in providing distance education (Akroyd et al., 2004). Historically, community colleges have demonstrated a commitment to access, outreach, and affordability in their efforts to make a difference in the lives of students and their surrounding communities (Milliron & Prentice, 2004). These institutions have begun to implement significant changes in administrative and instructional practice to embrace distance education and the technological revolution (Cohen & Brawer, 1996; Kosak et al., 2004). As Milliron and Prentice (2004) put it: In today s higher education world, asynchronous learning is the power tool (p. 1). Thus, the wired campus has become the norm rather than the exception in the community college (Dillon & Cintron, 1997; Meyers et al., 2004) as this institution of higher education uses computer-mediated services and online instruction to meet the growing demands and needs of students, the workforce, and the broader community. Through its utility in providing online access to student records, course advisement, and learner assessment, technology continues to emerge as an integral part of organizational and administrative infrastructures. As technologies continue to transform society, student services and instructional methods also continue to morph as institutions seek to accommodate a diverse student body (Kosak et al., 2004). Floyd (2003) remarked that, the effect of the [technology] revolution is already apparent in the improved efficiency in the operation of community colleges (p. 338). Further, she cited the egalitarian mission of teaching and learning in 3

16 this setting as a primary reason for the rapid expansion of campus-based use of technology. Community colleges, known for their focus on teaching and learning, are using technological tools and all available resources to effect, document, and measure student learning. Distance education is perceived to necessitate more of a team effort than the implementation of a traditional classroom course (Cyrs, 1997). Olliver (2004) recommended twelve maxims for sustaining effective online learning environments which involve interdepartmental and cross-divisional collaboration and cooperation. For example, the first maxim, a precondition for all of the others, posits that e-learning must be integral to the institutional mission and possess the full support of senior administration and the executive governance team. It is a systems perspective of thinking that lends itself as the desired model for effective implementation of online courses (Thach & Murphy, 1995). As a consequence, then, Olliver (2004) further asserts that the process for sustaining the online learning enterprise entails building institutional commitment, recognizing pedagogical differences, investing in instructional development and training, establishing a single point of contact, providing a full range of electronic services, along with devising a robust technical infrastructure and support network. He also identifies specific characteristics that should be evidenced within an effective online enterprise: ongoing marketing and marketing research, accountability, realistic financial provisions, resistance to the paralysis of analysis, and recognition of rapid change in e-learning processes. 4

17 Similarly, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) (2000) offered best practices for online education. For the component of faculty support, the report noted: 1. There should be a mutual decision-making process which utilizes qualified administration and faculty for the purpose of adopted policies and agreements to address concerns related to professional evaluation, ownership of intellectual property, compensation, and workload. 2. The institution should provide an ongoing program of appropriate technical, design, and production support for participating faculty members. 3. The institution should provide to those responsible for program development the orientation and training to help them become proficient in the uses of the program s technologies, including potential changes in course design and management. 4. The institution should provide to those responsible for working directly with students the orientation and training to help them become proficient in the uses of the technologies for these purposes, including strategies for effective interaction. As an epilogue, Sherry (1996) added that faculty who are experienced and at ease with the technology are potentially the most important variable in providing successful effective distance education. 5

18 Statement of the Problem While there is a growing realization that traditional teaching techniques will not work in online learning settings (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2000; McKenzie & Roblyer, 2000; Stolzenberg, 2002), there is insufficient scholarly research on the competencies and roles that faculty need for teaching Web-based courses (Thach, 1993) or the training and professional development necessary to sustain and support exemplary online instruction (Kosak et al., 2004). Given that greater number of faculty are beginning to teach in the online setting, efforts to identify requisite skills, knowledge, roles, and competencies are needed (Rockwell et al., 2000; Thach & Murphy, 1995; Williams, 2003). A commensurate and definitive need has arisen for faculty development and training, both pre- and in-service. The present research study sought to capitalize on the expertise of distance education administrators and those distance educators who teach in a community college setting to add to the body of knowledge and literature in this area. Purposes of the Study The primary purposes of the study were to explore the perceptions of distance education administrators and faculty who teach online in the community college regarding: (a) the relative importance of specific competencies (Goodyear et al., 2001; Pankowski, 2004; Thach & Murphy, 1995; Williams, 2003) and roles in teaching online courses, and (b) the need to acquire professional development that is supportive of these competencies pre- and/or in-service. Faculty teaching mathematics were chosen based on the statistical data establishing the crucial link between the successful completion of 6

19 postsecondary mathematics courses and eventual completion of a degree (Adelman, 1996; Berry, 2003; Pankowski, 2004). The research study will offers important insight for appropriately training and effectively sustaining faculty for the online teaching experience. Conceptual Framework The initial step for designing effective professional development programs is the identification of specific competencies and roles within a discipline (Williams, 2003). Thereafter, the competencies and roles generate content areas for engendering progressive expertise through faculty development. Thus, the first prong of the theoretical framework for the present study acknowledges that specified competencies comprised of skills, knowledge, and attitudes found in the literature are needed to produce the desired outputs for the successful online learning environment. A consistent concern for faculty members transitioning to the online learning environment is the change in their role as teacher. Several studies have examined roles for faculty teaching online courses from the framework of teacher presence and immediacy, social cognitive theory, and learning theory (Cuellar, 2002; Kosak et al., 2004; Levy, 2003; Wallace, 2003). Thach and Murphy (1995) defined a role as the predominant duty or function performed by an individual in a given profession or field. For online education, it is particularly important to ask how the interactive roles of faculty the personal, immediate, and responsive aspects can be realized in distance learning classrooms, or if they cannot be realized, what the role of the instructor becomes once the materials are online and the class begins (Wallace, 2003). 7

20 This second prong of the conceptual framework in this study posits that specific competencies, then, are reflected or organized into distinguishable faculty roles exhibited in-service when teaching an online course (See Figure 1). Figure 1 portrays how exposure to pre-service and/or in-service training leads to the development of specific competencies which manifest as roles within the online classroom environment. The cyclical process for exhibiting specific instructional roles embodies best practices for online instruction. For online education, it is particularly important to gain a clear understanding of the interactive roles of faculty found in the literature the personal, immediate, and responsive aspects for levels of prevalence and importance in achieving the desired learning outcomes (Wallace, 2003). Pre-Service Training Competencies In-Service Training Online Class Best Practice Instruction Specific Roles Figure 1. Best Practice Instruction Model in Internet-based Distance Education Research Questions 1. How do distance education administrators and faculty who teach online in the Florida Community College System (FCCS) rank the importance of core competencies and roles identified in the literature (Goodyear et al., 2001; 8

21 Pankowski, 2004; Thach & Murphy, 1995; Williams, 2003) for effective online instruction? 2. Is there a significant difference in the perceived rankings of competencies and roles between distance education administrators and faculty? 3. Is there a significant difference in the perceived rankings of specific competencies and roles between distance education administrators and faculty based upon varying demographic characteristics (years teaching experience in community college, years of online teaching experience in community college, gender, ethnic background, age)? 4. Beyond those provided by the researcher, what additional competencies and roles do distance education faculty and administrators identify as essential for teaching an online course? 5. How do distance education administrators and faculty who teach online in the Florida Community College System (FCCS) rank the need for faculty development to support critical skill sets identified in the literature (Goodyear et al., 2001; Pankowski, 2004; Thach & Murphy, 1995; Williams, 2003) for effective online instruction? 6. Is there a significant difference in the perceived rankings of need for professional development for specific skill sets between distance education administrators and faculty? 7. Is there a significant difference in the perceived rankings of need for faculty development for specific skill sets between distance education administrators and faculty based upon varying demographic characteristics (years teaching 9

22 experience in community college, years of online teaching experience in community college, gender, ethnic background, age)? 8. Beyond those provided by the researcher, what additional faculty development needs do distance education faculty and administrators identify as essential for teaching an online course? Methodology Research Paradigm This study used a mixed method research paradigm and survey research methodology to ascertain the perceived importance for core competencies and roles and for professional development related to critical skills deemed essential for teaching an online course. Population The identified population for this study was drawn from two sources. The distance learning administrator participants were captured from the membership roster of the Florida Distance Learning Consortium (FDLC) for the 28 community colleges within the state. The online faculty participants were selected from community colleges within the state of Florida who granted permission for the study and offered fully Web-based mathematics or statistics courses during the spring term All 28 community colleges had administrative membership to the FDLC. Twenty-three community colleges offered online courses mathematics or statistics during spring term 2006; 14 of those institutions granted permission to the researcher to conduct the study. 10

23 Instrumentation The researcher developed the primary survey instrument, entitled Survey of Competencies for Teaching an Online Course. The content of the survey instrument was based on core competencies and roles as well as critical skills supportive of these competencies and roles that have been consistently identified in the literature (Goodyear et al., 2001; Pankowski, 2004; Thach & Murphy, 1995; Williams, 2003) for effective online instruction. It was constructed to gather data representative of the perceptions of distance learning administrators and online faculty who teach in the Florida Community College System regarding the importance of these specific core competencies and the need for professional development when teaching a fully Web-based course. Permission and Data Collection Permission was sought from the chief academic officer or designee at each eligible Florida community college and the Executive Director of the FDLC to conduct the study. In April 2005, an introductory communication was sent to a representative of the FDLC to determine interest in the study. In January 2006, the Executive Director of the FDLC and the chief academic officer or designee from the 23 eligible community colleges were sent a direct-mail communication describing the study and asking for permission to engage their administrative membership and online math faculty, respectively, in the research study. A pilot test of the instrument was conducted in January 2006 using faculty teaching an online course in education or student life skills. The data was used to 11

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